An optimized nanoparticle separator enabled by electron beam induced deposition.
Size-based separations technologies will inevitably benefit from advances in nanotechnology. Direct-write nanofabrication provides a useful mechanism for depositing/etching nanoscale elements in environments otherwise inaccessible to conventional nanofabrication techniques. Here, electron beam induced deposition was used to deposit an array of nanoscale features in a 3D environment with minimal material proximity effects outside the beam-interaction region. Specifically, the membrane component of a nanoparticle separator was fabricated by depositing a linear array of sharply tipped nanopillars, with a singular pitch, designed for sub-50 nm nanoparticle permeability. The nanopillar membrane was used in a dual capacity to control the flow of nanoparticles in the transaxial direction of the array while facilitating the sealing of the cellular-sized compartment in the paraxial direction. An optimized growth recipe resulted which (1) maximized the growth efficiency of the membrane (which minimizes proximity effects) and (2) preserved the fidelity of the spacing between nanopillars (which maximizes the size-based gating quality of the membrane) while (3) maintaining sharp nanopillar apexes for impaling an optically transparent polymeric lid critical for device sealing.
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